Madurai

High Court quashes case booked for pasting posters

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The Madras High Court Bench here has quashed a police case registered against a village youth for having pasted posters announcing a one-day hunger strike demanding action against those responsible for the suspicious death of a government higher secondary school student during school hours at Pannaipuram in Theni district in December 2010.

Allowing a petition filed by the accused, M. Vijayakumar, Justice G.M. Akbar Ali held that the prosecution launched against him was an abuse of the process of law.

The judge quashed the criminal proceedings though it was represented that Kombai police in Theni district had already laid a charge sheet in the case before a Judicial Magistrate court in Bodinayakannur.

The police had booked the petitioner under the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act, 1959, based on a complaint lodged by a Village Administrative Officer.

They contended that the petitioner had not obtained prior permission for pasting the posters in the village and that he had condemned the State government in those posters. It was also the case of the prosecution that the posters did not contain the name and address of the press where they were printed and that the petitioner had not obtained the consent of the owners of the properties concerned before pasting the posters on their walls.

These acts amounted to commission of offences under various provisions of the 1959 Act, they claimed.

However, Mr. Justice Ali said a person could be prosecuted under Section 3 of the Act only if he had displayed ‘objectionable advertisement,’ a term which had been defined in the legislation itself to mean advertisements likely to incite violence, those intended to outrage religious feelings, grossly indecent or obscene or those which obstructed traffic.

The Act also categorically stated that an advertisement should not be deemed to be objectionable merely because it criticised a law or policy or administrative action of the government with a view to getting it altered or redressed through lawful means, the judge said. He also pointed out that every citizen enjoyed freedom of speech and expression subject to reasonable restrictions.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 5:29:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/high-court-quashes-case-booked-for-pasting-posters/article6227655.ece

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